Fame can be all too fleeting for some. One minute you may be the leading lady of a money-spinning blockbuster; the next, though, you may be taking third billing in a straight-to-DVD flop. Here are 20 actresses – some of whom even have major awards to their names – who have discovered just how fickle the film industry can be.
20. Amanda Bynes
After wrapping up Nickelodeon hit The Amanda Show, Amanda Bynes enjoyed success with big-screen outings What a Girl Wants, Hairspray and Easy A. Since 2012, however, she’s become more famous for her troubled private life than her talents, having been twice arrested for DUI and repeatedly hospitalized for mental health issues. Bynes later announced that she was quitting acting to pursue a career as a fashion designer.
19. Rebecca Gayheart
Rebecca Gayheart was a teen movie regular at the turn of the century thanks to roles in Jawbreaker, Harvard Man and Urban Legend. The former Noxzema Girl later turned to the small screen with parts in Nip/Tuck and Dead Like Me. But since appearing in the aptly titled 2006 conspiracy drama Vanished, Gayheart has all but disappeared from our screens. Indeed, three guest TV spots and supporting roles in Bunny Whipped, G.B.F. and Grey Lady are her only credits from the past decade.
18. Lindsay Lohan
As with Bynes, Lindsay Lohan has had more than her fair share of tabloid-covered troubles. And where once the actress was a popular young star thanks to films like The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, she has arguably been on a downward spiral ever since the mid-’00s, given her numerous court cases and rehab trips. Lohan’s recent movies such as Liz and Dick and The Canyons have flopped dismally, too, and Hollywood has seemingly now written her off as a liability.
17. Bridget Fonda
Born into an acting dynasty, in the early ’90s Bridget Fonda followed in the footsteps of her father Pete, grandfather Henry and aunt Jane. Appearances in The Godfather: Part III, Singles and Jackie Brown were just some of the roles that proved Fonda had inherited her family’s acting talent. But the star hasn’t been seen on screen since the 2002 TV movie Snow Queen. Instead, she’s focused on raising a family with composer husband Danny Elfman.
16. Mira Sorvino
Mira Sorvino certainly hasn’t been short of work since winning an Oscar for playing prostitute Linda Ash in Woody Allen’s 1995 drama Mighty Aphrodite. Unfortunately for the actress, though, the majority of her subsequent roles have been in forgettable straight-to-DVD or TV movies. And while the daughter of actor/director Paul Sorvino has appeared in six films since 2015, only one of these flicks has made any waves at all at the box office.
15. Eliza Dushku
Eliza Dushku was expected to challenge Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s breakout star when the hit show ended in 2003. And starring roles in Tru Calling and Wrong Turn were an encouraging start. But following Dollhouse’s premature cancelation in 2010, Dushku has seemingly struggled to make an impact in Hollywood. In fact, the majority of her films this decade have bypassed theaters altogether.
14. Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt made her name on the teen drama Party of Five; she then became one of the ultimate late ’90s scream queens thanks to the I Know What You Did Last Summer films. But although Hewitt has remained a regular face on our TV screens – recently appearing in The Client List and Criminal Minds – her film career has faltered. Her last big-screen appearance was way back in 2012 in the adaptation of off-Broadway production Jewtopia.
13. Neve Campbell
Neve Campbell has experienced a similar career trajectory to Jennifer Love Hewitt. The Canadian actress also got her start on Party of Five before becoming a horror icon as the Scream series’ Sidney Prescott. But Campbell has struggled to maintain the same level of success on the big screen. Instead, she’s focused on television – most recently with a recurring role on House of Cards.
12. Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan was undoubtedly the rom-com darling of the late ’80s and ’90s. When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle were just some of the films that benefited from her quirky charm and bubbly blonde image. But the 21st century has been less kind to her career, as you have to go as far back as 2008 to find her last box-office hit, The Women.
11. Ashley Greene
Unlike former co-stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Ashley Greene has struggled to make an impression outside the Twilight franchise. The actress, who played Alice Cullen in the vampire series, has kept busy, though. Indeed, she’s actually appeared in a number of movies such as Burying the Ex, Staten Island Summer, Urge and In Dubious Battle. However, only a few of these films have achieved anything more than limited-release runs.
10. Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu may be currently enjoying small-screen success in Elementary, but her big-screen career has arguably flagged. And while the actress looked to have made it in the early ’00s with a string of hits including Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill and Chicago, a voice role in the Kung Fu Panda series is her only notable contribution to cinema since 2008.
9. Tara Reid
Tara Reid was one of the breakout stars of the American Pie franchise, which revolutionized teen comedy at the turn of the century. She later appeared in Dr. T and the Women, Josie and the Pussycats and Van Wilder. But Reid’s party girl antics seemingly began to overshadow her acting talents – and an ill-advised reality show named Taradise didn’t help matters much, either. Over the past few years, then, she’s become a regular of the intentionally awful Sharknado series.
8. Mena Suvari
Reid’s American Pie co-star Mena Suvari had the perfect year in 1999. Not only did she light up the screen as Heather Gardner in the iconic teen comedy, but she also earned a BAFTA nomination for her seductive turn in American Beauty. Sadly for Suvari, though, she may have peaked too soon. Although she’s continued to rack up the credits, the majority of her subsequent roles have been in low-budget indie films and straight-to-DVD affairs.
7. Christina Ricci
The scene-stealer of the early ’90s Addams Family films, Christina Ricci looked to have avoided the usual pitfalls that come with being a child star. She was popular with the critics, too, earning a Golden Globe nomination for 1998’s The Opposite of Sex and receiving acclaim for her turns in Sleepy Hollow and Monster. But Ricci’s profile began to wane in the mid-’00s, and her appearance in Razzie-nominated box-office disaster Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star hardly helped matters.
6. Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone is perhaps the prime example of how quickly a Hollywood star can fall. The actress was tipped to become the next big thing following her iconic performance in 1995’s Clueless. That early promise was derailed, though, by a string of critical and commercial flops, including Batman and Robin, Excess Baggage and Blast from the Past. And although Silverstone has remained in steady employment, she’s never come close to recapturing her initial career success.
5. Liv Tyler
As with Silverstone, Liv Tyler first caught attention in a promo for Aerosmith – her father Steven’s band. Unlike her early co-star, though, Tyler managed to extend her success well into the ’00s. There were roles in The Strangers and The Incredible Hulk, not to mention a significant part in the Lord of the Rings series. However, her film career has stalled since 2012’s Robot & Frank. It seems, then, that the star is now focusing her attention on TV; she was most recently seen in HBO’s The Leftovers.
4. Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton first found fame with roles in late ’90s box-office smashes Notting Hill and The Sixth Sense. She then became the quintessential “It Girl” thanks to her performance as Marissa Cooper in teen drama The O.C. Sadly, though, the troubled star has since become more renowned for various legal, drug and mental health problems. And while she remains a surprisingly prolific actress, starring in 17 films since 2015 alone, nearly all of the movies in question have been straight-to-DVD flops.
3. Elisha Cuthbert
Elisha Cuthbert shot to fame playing Jack Bauer’s daughter Kim in 24 before moving to the big screen in The Girl Next Door. Horror movies House of Wax and Captivity also continued to raise her profile. But with just two films in the can since the turn of the decade, Cuthbert’s big-screen ambitions appear to have dramatically cooled. Instead, she’s seemingly focused on TV sitcoms, with roles in Happy Endings, One Big Happy and The Ranch.
2. Rachael Leigh Cook
Rachael Leigh Cook shot to fame as the “ugly duckling” in 1999 teen rom-com She’s All That. But after Josie and the Pussycats flopped hard at the box office, her once-promising film career derailed. Over the past decade, in fact, Cook has become a fixture of the straight-to-DVD market, with 2007’s Nancy Drew being her only recent movie to make it to cinemas. Still, the star has found more success on the small screen by playing Kate Moretti in Perception.
1. Bridgette Wilson
Former Miss Teen USA Bridgette Wilson swapped pageants for film sets with roles in Billy Madison, Mortal Kombat and House on Haunted Hill. And the wife of tennis superstar Pete Sampras looked set to continue her success into the new century with parts in The Wedding Planner and Shopgirl. Instead, though, Wilson fell off the radar, and she hasn’t been seen on screen since 2008’s Phantom Punch.